The fictional “fiscal cliff” has been averted with much drama and political theatre involved in the “showdown” between the executive and legislative branches of our government.
However, it effectively solved nothing and those fiscal issues will resurface in 60 days and must be addressed again as the executive and legislative branches engage in this nonsensical political posturing that undermines the economic stability of America.
I will set forth a 31-point proposal that represents sound fiscal policy combined with goals consistent with democratic principles inherent within a constitutional republic that forms the basis for long-term economic stability. This plan will protect and preserve the constitutional liberties of the people. If fully implemented, it will resolve our fiscal dilemma and prevent anymore “fiscal cliffs” that allegedly threaten American economic security and undermine American constitutional government.
1) Over ten years, raise the top marginal tax rates back to the levels they were during the GOP administration of Dwight D. Eisenhower. In 1954, the top marginal tax rate for the wealthiest earners was 91%.
During the eight year presidency of Dwight D. Eisenhower [1953 - 1961], dividend income was treated the same as earned income, so the rich paid 91% tax on dividend income. Capital gains income was taxed at 25%. Since then the rate on corporate capital gains income has dropped from 25% to 15%.
When the GOP claims America does not have a “revenue” problem but a “spending” problem, it is clear to see that revenue from corporations and the wealthy elite has steadily declined thus creating a revenue problem.
This will bring in needed revenue from those most responsible for our current economic crisis: the Wealthy Elite.
Of course, concomitant with raising the top marginal tax rates is the necessity to address the US Tax Code to eliminate tax loopholes that encourage top marginal rate taxpayers to use such loopholes to avoid paying their fair share of taxes to support the American economy.
The GOP is always reminiscing about a return to the 1950’s when America allegedly manifested such greatness. GOP POTUS Ronald Reagan [who tripled the national debt] waxed nostalgic for those days. He referred to a return to those years as, “restoring America’s greatness”.
Of course, in reality Ronald Reagan was actually referencing a return to that period in American history that predated the Great Depression when Robber Barons ruled supreme with a virtual choke hold on the American economy.
2) Reduce annual defense spending [currently 707 Billion dollars] by 1/3. Begin by eliminating waste, fraud and abuse in government contracting [do away with “cost plus” no bid military contracts]. All contracts will be put out for competitive bidding.
Increase military efficiency to reduce overall costs. End our foreign wars of empire and reduce our military forces by at least 1 million. Close 100 overseas military bases [there are currently over 800 bases located overseas] over a ten-year period and bring those troops home.
End funding for all private contractors [military doublespeak for mercenary soldiers] who serve in wars of foreign occupation [they are excessively costly] and enrich those engaged in the for profit business of war.
Reinstate the draft so that every American must participate in the defense of America to reestablish the connection between warfare and the collective impact war has on the American people. Military service should be a prerequisite of US citizenship, including the children of the wealthy elite who should be required to serve in combat units during wartime in capacities other than officers just like every other citizen without exemption.
3) Take Social Security off the table during any deficit/debt reduction negotiations and remove the cap on FICA taxation. At the very least, raise the cap from the current $113,800.00 of annual earned income to $500,000.00. Furthermore, dividend and capital gains income should be taxable for FICA purposes the same as “labor income”.
This would insure the solvency of Social Security for the next 75+ years and allow the monthly minimum payment to be raised above the federal poverty level for those relying solely upon Social Security or 18 million seniors [69% are women] for their income.
US Senator Bernie Sanders [I], Vermont introduced a bill to remove the cap on FICA taxation and that bill sits in committee unable to make it to the senate floor for a vote. That bill should immediately be brought to the senate floor.
4) Over ten years, transform Medicare into a Universal Healthcare program and allow people to participate fully in that program thus eliminating the high cost of healthcare in America.
Eliminate all healthcare tied to employment. Allow the for profit healthcare system to remain in place for the wealthy elite but eliminate it for all other Americans. If those who do not need universal healthcare want to pay for it out of pocket, allow them to continue to do so.
Every American without exception can pay into the system with a set amount of money and that payment represents their total annual financial contribution to their healthcare. Everyone is eligible with no one opting out of the program. Citizens can be allowed to opt for private healthcare if they pay for it out of pocket themselves, but they still must pay their annual contribution to universal healthcare.
5) Provide free public education for every child in America from elementary school through college. There is no greater investment in America than the education of the children.
Post-graduate studies are to be paid for by the student or a company prepared to hire the person upon completion of those advanced studies. Debt forgiveness for those burdened with excessive educational debt that threatens their future should be a major priority of the congress.
6) Change the laws governing our US tax code. Eliminate the ability for companies to hide their profits off shore to avoid taxation. Make it clear that doing business in America means paying taxes in America that benefits America. Eliminate corporate welfare for companies that outsource jobs overseas. If a corporation cannot survive without government subsidies that do nothing more than benefit the corporate profit margin while undermining American democracy let those corporations fail.
7) Reward companies that retain workers in America and for those who bring factories and jobs back to America with a tax credit by tying tax credits directly to job creation by the company. The more jobs created by the company the higher the tax credit for that company.
I recognize that this measure effectively represents “corporate welfare” but it is money well spent if it creates jobs.
8) Restore the tariffs that existed prior to the Presidency of Ronald Reagan to protect American production and jobs. China maintains tariffs on all goods imported into the country to protect Chinese businesses and workers jobs.
9) Restore enforcement of the Sherman Antitrust Act that prevented the creation of monopolies but stopped and are no longer enforced beginning with the presidency of Ronald Reagan. It is necessary to eliminate mergers and acquisitions that create “too big too fail” entities. This is especially true of banks and multi-national corporate entities.
10) Break up the “too big to fail banks”. Either nationalize the banking system or establish state banks that would provide financial services to citizens on a state-by-state basis. In America, Too Big to Fail, means too big to exist in a democracy and eliminating them is a priority.
11) End all speculation by Wall Street in derivative trading and other exotic financial “instruments” designed to defraud people. Prosecute white-collar crime with the same vigor that other forms of crime are prosecuted. Financial fraud is to be prosecuted as a serious crime with significant prison terms for those who engage in it. We should treat “white collar crime” the same as all other crime with mandatory minimum sentencing of anyone convicted of such crime.
12) Reinstate the Glass-Steagall Act that regulated the banking industry. The repeal of Glass-Steagall paved the way for the Wall Street and Banking fraud that occurred during the Bush II presidency.
13) Eliminate NAFTA or enforce those parts of NAFTA that secure workers’ rights. President Clinton failed to effectively deal with worker’s rights in the original bill and worker’s rights are undermined under NAFTA.
14) Pass the Dream Act and implement immigration reform that resolves the issue of illegal immigration in a fair and compassionate way. Also, enact legislation that requires significant fines and imprisonment for any employer that hires illegal immigrants and exploits their labor to increase their profit.
The emphasis upon illegal immigration should be shifted from illegal immigrants to the employers who entice them here in order to exploit their labor. Employers actively participate in the employment of illegal immigrants and they do so knowingly and willfully in violation of the law.
15) Eliminate unrestrained lobbying by special interest groups by putting limits on the number of lobbyists. Prior to the presidency of Ronald Reagan, there was a limit on the number of lobbyists. This needs to be reinstated.
16) Repeal the 22nd Amendment to the US Constitution thus eliminating term limits for the US President. Most scandal occurs in the second term of the POTUS after they no longer have to face election to office. There are no term limits on members of congress and there should be no term limits on the President.
17) Repeal the Citizens United decision. Corporations are not people and they are not entitled to any of the constitutional rights/protections afforded to genuine citizens in our constitutional democracy.
Corporations are artificial entities created by groups of real people to conduct business and various other activities but as collections of people, they are not entitled to individual personhood.
18) Money is not equivalent to speech and should not be deemed so in our constitutional democracy. If money is speech, then the wealthy elite have more free speech than others do and that is antithetical to our constitutional democracy wherein free speech rights are an equal right for all citizens.
The congress should pass an amendment to the US Constitution that clarifies this issue by declaring that “money” is not equivalent to free speech.
19) Public financing of ALL federal and state elections with limits placed upon the amount that can be spent on elections and a reduction in the election cycle to restore respectability and integrity to our elective process is essential.
Currently in America, we effectively have a two-year election cycle for federal office. In the House of Representatives, immediately after taking the oath of office, representatives immediately begin their next election campaign. In the Senate, 1/3 of the US Senate faces election every two years and they spend too much time campaigning for office in what is essentially a two-year cycle of campaigning.
20) Invest in mass transit, particularly high-speed rail, to interconnect the nation and reduce the carbon footprint from automobiles. Every other industrialized nation relies upon high-speed mass transit. America is far behind other countries in this area.
21) Address global warming/climate change. It is important to move away from fossil fuels to eliminate the carbon footprint that is contributing to global warming. Do this in such a manner that the American people can be assured that global warming will not be used as an excuse to undermine the constitutional rights of the American people. The persistent threat exists that global warming/climate change can be used as an excuse to enslave and eradicate the constitutional rights of the populace under “national security” assertions generated by those who wish to exploit it for their own financial/political gain.
If global warming fueled by the excessive reliance on fossil fuels is not addressed, nothing else will matter because it will lead to the extinction on the planet of all human life.
23) Enact welfare reform that does not punish people who, through no fault of their own, are unable to return to work. The draconian welfare reform [Welfare to Work] enacted during the Clinton presidency should be repealed and new reforms initiated that reflect a compassionate approach to our fellow citizens in need of temporary assistance due to a variety of circumstances unrelated to “laziness” as alleged by those interested in pursuing partisan political purposes to exploit American citizens/workers.
24) Enact a jobs recovery program that focuses upon the restoration, repair and maintenance of American infrastructure to put people back to work and stimulate the economy. This should be similar to the program initiated by FDR during the Great Depression.
25) Restore the filibuster in the US Senate back to its original purpose and require actual, physical filibusters by Senators to prevent passage of a bill. Eliminate “secret” holds by US Senators that allow them to prevent an up or down vote on legislation and executive branch appointments to critical agencies necessary to implement the fiscal plan. This will encourage greater cooperation in the US Senate and allow for the enactment of legislation needed to implement a fiscal recovery plan.
Legislative gridlock benefits corporations who exploit that gridlock to extract as much profit from the society as possible without effective regulation of their nefarious activities that harm the economic viability of the American economy.
26) Eliminate secret negotiations between the executive branch and congress concerning fiscal issues. The US Congress was established to have full disclosure on legislation of national interest in an open forum wherein full disclosure acts as a preventive for the cutting of secret deals that undermine trust in our democratic institutions. All deficit/debt reduction talks should take place in a public forum.
27) Eliminate lifetime appointments for the Unites States Supreme Court [SCOTUS]. It consolidates too much power into the hands of judges with lifetime terms. Furthermore, we need to eliminate the practice of allowing a simple majority to decide cases. This allows five judges to control the destiny of 333 million Americans. Ironically, the idea of majority rule is corrupted by a simple majority decision of the Supreme Court. This is one instance wherein the Supreme Court should be required to have a three-fourths majority on every ruling.
This means that seven judges would have to agree before any ruling they make becomes law.
Congress should enact legislation that redefines the purpose of the Supreme Court to bring it back into line with the original intent of the US Constitution. The US Supreme Court has taken upon itself powers never designated by the US Constitution.
Limit the terms US Supreme Court judges to ten years with staggered terms in office. This provides for a regular transformation of the court and insures that moderation would be required to reach a consensus on any issue before the court.
Such a change is long overdue and can prevent such egregious and unconstitutional rulings such as Bush V. Gore, and Citizens United from becoming law after a ruling from a simply majority of the court.
28) Repeal that portion of the US Constitution that established the Electoral College. It is an atavistic and anachronistic concept originally established by the Founding Fathers to insure domination and control over the electoral process in order to overrule the popular will of the people of the country by the wealthy elite. It is no longer viable in a genuinely egalitarian constitutional democracy. We can do better.
29) Establish a federal election procedure that unifies the voting process under federal law requiring uniform voting practices throughout the nation under federal oversight to eliminate election fraud.
Election fraud perpetrated upon the people by partisan State political entities is a real threat to our democracy.
30) Repeal the Taft-Hartley Act. It is undemocratic and designed to allow employers to abrogate the rights of workers by effectively preventing workers in “Right To Work” states from unionizing. It is an undemocratic infringement upon the constitutional rights of workers to organize to collectively bargain with much more powerful corporate entities. In a democracy nothing should be done to impede the democratic expression of the people, particularly in the workplace.
31) America needs to transition away from capitalism. The capitalist economic system was superimposed upon our constitutional republic at the inception of the founding of our nation. The role model for such a conversion already exists in Spain. The “Mondragon Co-operatives” in Spain are based upon worker owned and operated businesses that promote community.
Our government should promote worker owned co-operatives and enterprises that participate in profit sharing with employees, and defund those top down capitalist corporations that exploit workers labor. America can transition away from the capitalist economic system towards one that is compatible with an egalitarian democracy in a constitutional republic.
Our democracy is based upon mutual co-operation and compromise that maintains respect for the constitutional rights of the people.
Capitalism undermines those principles and goals by putting emphasis upon competition reliant upon the mutual exploitation of each other in a relentless pursuit of profit that undermines the spirit of community that is so essential for the preservation of our constitutional republic.
America cannot remain a constitutional republic under the oppressive burden of the capitalist economic system that imposes such anti-democratic economic principles upon the people in endless pursuit of profit.
Capitalism is completely antithetical to and incompatible with democracy. In our democratic society, the collective and individual aspirations of the people found expression in the preamble to the US Constitution. Capialism with its emphasis upon the ccommodification of everything to the profit motive, including human beings, undermines those democratic principles that form the foundation of our constitutional republic.
This sets forth a 31-point fiscal plan to lead America to economic stability/recovery based upon a foundation of democratic principles consistent with a constitutional republic.
Of course, the devil is always in the details. Nothing meaningful or effective can be accomplished without co-operation and compromise between the executive, judicial, and legislative branches of government. It is our responsibility as involved citizens to “hold their feet to the fire” and demand they put aside partisan political posturing and address those issues of fundamental concern to us collectively as a people with fidelity and devotion to those democratic principles and ideals that form the foundation of our constitutional republic.